Culture Magazine

More About French Philosophy's Reception of German Philosophy After WWI

By Praymont
After WWI, British and French students were awash in the anti-German sentiments of their respective cultures. But French philosophy students were exposed to the corrective influence of the two-Germanies model. Even if that influence was diminished in the post-War years, French students (and established philosophers) were subjected to another corrective influence. To wit, in the 1920s the French professorate was more diverse than that of the UK in at least one crucial respect: it included a number of very able philosophers who had been educated by German philosophy professors shortly before the War, and the former philosophers maintained their engagement with the latter group after the War. Some of the professors in the former group were from Alsace-Lorraine, a territory that belonged to Germany before the War and to France afterwards. Most of them, though, were refugees who had fled the 1917 revolution in Russia. The influence of these figures is particularly striking when one examines how Husserl re-surfaced in French philosophy after WWI.
While there had been some French publications about Husserl before the War, there wasn't much about him in the post-War French literature until 1926, when a French translation of Lev Shestov's 'Memento Mori' appeared in Révue Philosophique. This critique of Husserl drew a reply from Jean Héring, an Alsatian professor in the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the University of Strasbourg.
Héring received most of his education when his Alsatian homeland was part of Germany. He had studied with Husserl in Göttingen (in 1909). With the shift of borders at the end of the War, he became a French citizen. Shestov was born, raised, and educated in Tsarist Russia and fled to France in 1920. He later became a professor of Russian at the University of Paris. Shestov is said to have initiated the invitation for Husserl to lecture in Paris in 1929.
Another influential Russian figure is Alexandre Koyré, a historian and philosopher of science. He, too, had studied with Husserl before the War. After Husserl disapproved of Koyré's research direction, Koyré moved to Paris to continue his education. Koyré fought in the Russian army during the War and then returned to Paris, where he completed his education and taught in the Department of Religious Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. Koyré helped with the translation into French of Husserl's 1929 Paris lectures. (Along with a younger Russian, Alexandre Kojève, Koyré would also help French philosophers to improve their understanding of Hegel.)
There was a third Russian emigré who helped to raise Husserl's profile in France between the wars: the sociologist Georges Gurvitch, who (like Koyré) had received part of his education in German universities. At the Sorbonne between 1928 and 1930, Gurvitch lectured on recent German philosophy, focusing on phenomenology (esp. that of Max Scheler). (Ethan Kleinberg, Generation Existential: Heidegger's Philosophy in France, 1927–1961 [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007], pp. 27-28) These lectures formed the basis of his book Les tendances actuelles de la philosophie allemande, (Paris: Vrin, 1930) which presented the ideas of Husserl, Lask, Scheler, and Heidegger.
Another figure who helped to disseminate knowledge of Husserl in France between the wars was Bernard Groethuysen, a German author who, both before and after the War, divided his time between Germany and France. In Germany, he taught philosophy and history courses. In France, he worked as an editor and essayist.
In the 1920s, Paris had one of the largest populations of Russian refugees. Many of these Russians had received at least part of their post-secondary education in Germany. While few (perhaps none) of the above-named Russian philosophers were employed by French philosophy departments, they were employed by other academic departments in French universities. I don't know of any comparable minority group in the British universities of the day that had both the ability and opportunity to counteract biases against contemporary German academic philosophy. (Isaiah Berlin received his education in the UK, and Wittgenstein had relatively little acquaintance with the German philosophy professors of his time.) It is especially instructive to compare the French engagement with Husserl in the '20s with the chilly reception of Husserl's 1922 lectures in London.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
    LIFESTYLE
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener
    GARDENING, HOME

Magazines